A University of California Museum of Paleontology short course

The implications of evolution: evidence and applications
Mackerel, Coast Live Oak, jellyfish, butterfly, chimpanzee, slime mold, ribbon worm

Learn about current research in evolutionary biology, including behavior and defense, primate evolution, and coevolution and its impact on biodiversity … AND celebrate Darwin Day (Darwin's birthday is February 12) a little early!

Saturday, February 10, 2007
in Room 2050, Valley Life Sciences Building, UC Berkeley


Parking information

8:15 am



Registration opens

Welcome and logistics

The Coevolving Web of Life
John Thompson, Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at UC Santa Cruz
Earth's millions of species interact with one another in a remarkable variety of ways, linking predators and prey, parasites and hosts, competitors, and mutualists into complex webs of life. This exuberance of interconnected life is what Darwin called the entangled bank. Scientists now know that the process of coevolution continually reshapes these webs of life. Thompson will discuss how all complex organisms have come to rely upon coevolved relationships to survive and reproduce and how recent research is providing new perspectives on coevolution as one of the central processes organizing life on Earth.


Mantis Shrimp: Still the Fastest Claw in the West
Roy Caldwell, Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley
Over three hundred million years ago, mantis shrimp evolved one of the fastest and most powerful mechanical weapons in the animal kingdom, a greatly enlarged pair of raptorial appendages. While the raptorial appendages evolved for feeding, they also provide formidable offensive and defensive weapons that shape their mode of hunting and the type of domicile and mating systems. This is perhaps best seen in their sensory and learning capabilities. Some groups have what is arguably the most complex eye in the animal kingdom and in conjunction with this have evolved semi-private communication systems based on ultraviolet, fluorescent and polarized signals. Caldwell will give a general introduction to the biology of mantis shrimps, highlighting new research on their strike functions, their amazing visual and communications systems, and the interplay between the weapons they possess and other aspects of their biology.


Fossils, Genes, and Teeth: Reconstructing Primate Evolution
Leslea Hlusko, Assistant Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley
Although Darwin was correct about the natural mechanism through which organisms change over time (natural selection), he was at a loss to explain how variation was passed from one generation to the next. Advances in genetics, medicine, computer technology, and paleontology are enabling us to investigate evolution in a way that Charles Darwin only dreamed about. Hlusko will discuss some new approaches combining paleontology and genetics that are enabling scientists to pry open Darwin's black box of inheritance, and gain insight into how animals, including humans, have evolved over time.



Break for lunch (on your own)

How to Fall From Trees: New Evolutionary Insights into the Origins of Animal Flight
Robert Dudley, Professor of Integrative Biology at UC Berkeley
What is the use of half a wing? More generally, how do novel structures and behaviors evolve? Recently discovered aerial behaviors in ant workers of the tropical rain forest canopy demonstrate directed falling maneuvers in the complete absence of wings. Such control of falling  is not confined to ants, and can be found in a number of different wingless larval insects.  Most importantly, tree-dwelling bristletails (the wingless relatives of the winged insects) also exhibit directed aerial descent while falling. In evolutionary time, controlled aerial behaviors appear to have preceded the origin of wings in insects and in other flying animals. This observation has important implications for our understanding of the evolution of animal flight.


So Where's the Controversy?
Eugenie Scott, Executive Director of the National Center for Science Education
Scott will discuss current antievolution strategies, the intelligent design movement, and recent legal decisions concerning the teaching of evolution. There will be ample time for discussion.


Closing comments

Link to more information on our speakers.

Check out these other Darwin Day activities:

East Bay Science Café — The Café is held Thursday, February 8, at Spud's Pizza, 3290 Adeline Street, Berkeley, at 7:00 pm. This is a Café Scientifique-style forum for discussing interesting and important scientific issues. This month will feature Robert Dudley and Jim McGuire who will present New Insights into Animal Flight Evolution Obtained from Gliding Southeast Asian Lizards and Amazonian Ant-Tossing.

Screening of the film Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design CircusFlock of Dodos is a feature length documentary (85 minutes) that explores the evolution vs. intelligent design controversy. Dr. Randy Olson pokes fun at both sides of this debate as he travels the country chronicling the ongoing brouhaha. The film will be shown at the Lawrence Hall of Science (map) at 2:00 pm on Sunday, February 11, 2007. The film is free with LHS admission (space is limited).

UCMP is a member of the Berkeley Natural History Museums. This course is co-sponsored by the California Science Teachers Association, California Academy of Sciences, the Oakland Museum of California, and the National Center for Science Education.

Questions? Contact Judy Scotchmoor, jscotch@berkeley.edu.

Photos © Larry J. Friesen